Presidential candidate Ron Paul's brand of do-nothing foreign policy is deservedly eviscerated by Bret Stephens in today's Wall Street Journal, and unfortunately it demonstrates why not everyone waving a libertarian banner is a libertarian's friend.
Paul's remedy for the world's ills is for America to leave them alone. Leave them alone and all the terrorists will go home, wagging their tails behind them. This is not a policy, it's wishful thinking. And it's not libertarianism, it's the same brand of fantasy-laden pacifism espoused by Ron Paul's hero Murray Rothbard -- a pacifism that led Rothbard to conclude at the very height of the Cold War that the Soviet Union was not expansionist, was "devoted to peace," and so posed no threat to the United States who should therefore disarm completely. Talk about rationalistic delusion in pursuit of foreign policy. It's the sort of foreign policy you find espoused either in lunatic asylums, or in Keith Locke's and Ron Paul's foreign policy teams. But I repeat myself.
Stephens reminds readers of George Orwell's observation of English pacifists that pacifism is a doctrine that can only be preached behind the protective cover of the Royal Navy. And it's worth observing that Thomas Jefferson's rational foreign policy of "trade with all, and entangling alliances with none" -- a policy badly mangled by Paul -- led inexorably to the building up of the US Navy to sweep the North African coast of pirates threatening the world's trade routes.
What's truly unfortunate, as I've had cause to point out here before, is that to the extent that Paul is successful in having his deluded brand of do-nothing foreign policy equated as being libertarian, he is doing serious harm to rational libertarianism -- to the basic recognition that the right to self-defence requires the means of self-defence, both at home and abroad, particularly at this time when threats from abroad are so malignant. It is wrong, as Stephens does, to identify this necessary protection with the Leviathan state, but it is Paul's irrational libertarianism that encourages him to make that connection.
It is for reasons such as these that a rational libertarian has to conclude that Ron Paul is not a friend of liberty, and that the extent his candidacy is successful in capturing public attention is the extent to which he damages liberty's cause.